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How to Get Rid of
Fruit Flies in Your House

Blog Title Shape
May 14, 2024

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Have you noticed tiny flies buzzing around your home? The dreaded fruit flies have arrived and won’t go away despite your efforts to keep things tidy. They breed quickly, so you might notice one fruit fly and a swarm only a day or two later. Let’s clarify: Fruit flies are not a cleanliness issue. They can invade your home no matter how clean and healthy it is. Before learning how to get rid of fruit flies, knowing how the problem started is essential. 

What Causes Fruit Flies In Your Home?

The culprit isn’t dirt and grime—fermenting fruits and vegetables and moisture lure these pests into your home. Fruit flies get out of control quickly because a female lays eggs on or in ripe and rotting fruit. After they hatch, larvae can evolve into adults in a few days and continue the breeding cycle. Since the females can lay up to 500 eggs at a time, getting rid of fruit flies is the best defense.

These pests are active all year, but peak season is at the end of summer and early fall when fruits and vegetables are ripe. The pests enter your home on the produce you buy at the farmer’s market or the pumpkin patch down the road. However they arrived, never fear: Learning how to get rid of fruit flies is simple and easy. But first, let’s ensure we know what we’re dealing with, and then we’ll learn how to kill fruit flies.

What’s the Difference Between Fruit Flies, Drain Flies, and Gnats?

When you see little black bugs flying around, your first step is to find out what kind of pest you have. Fruit flies, drain flies, and gnats look similar, but getting rid of fruit flies takes a specific approach. Gnats are typically gray, black, or brown with light-colored legs. Adult gnats are usually less than ⅛ inch long and look more like mosquitos than flies.

Drain flies are gray or tan with dark trim around their wings. Adults are about the same size as adult gnats but have a moth-like appearance. Fruit flies in your home typically come in two varieties: the red-eyed fruit fly and the dark-eyed fruit fly. Both have striped abdomens, and the primary difference is eye color. Dark-eyed fruit flies are a little larger than the red-eyed variety, but both resemble small house flies.

Fruit flies primarily infest areas where there’s fruit, vegetables, or garbage, while gnats infest the soil of houseplants. You’ll learn how to kill fruit flies with this guideline, and if you determine your pests are gnats, check out our tips for getting rid of gnats.

Can Fruit Flies in My House Cause Illness?

While uncommon, a fruit fly infestation can make your family sick. Fruit flies pick up bacteria on surfaces and deposit the germs onto other surfaces and fresh foods. Because fruit flies are attracted to feces, E. coli, salmonella, and listeria can be of concern. These three bacteria can cause food poisoning and, in severe cases, be life-threatening. While the chances of someone getting sick are low, the icky factor alone makes getting rid of fruit flies a top priority.

How to Get Rid of Fruit Flies: 10 Field-Tested Tips and Traps

Because The Maids® is one of the only residential cleaning companies that cleans for health, we recommend eco-friendly solutions. Learning how to make homemade traps using safe and effective ingredients is easy. You can use ripened fruit, beer, or apple cider vinegar to lure, trap, and kill them. 

Place a few DIY fruit fly traps around the house near sinks, food cabinets, and trash cans. If the fruit fly infestation is severe, consider commercial traps, or go all-natural and let a carnivorous plant handle the pest control. Here are several proven remedies for how to eliminate fruit flies:

1. Apple Cider Vinegar

Fill a bowl with apple cider vinegar (you can also use white vinegar in a pinch), use a rubber band and plastic wrap to make a cover, then poke holes in the top. The vinegar attracts the pests and traps them inside.

2. Vinegar And Dish Soap

Mix vinegar and a drop of dish soap in a bowl near areas where you see fruit flies. The vinegar attracts the pests, and the dish soap reduces the liquid surface tension enough to drown the pests.

3. Vinegar And Ripe Fruit

Put a piece of ripe fruit in a jar ¼ full of apple cider vinegar. Roll some paper into a cone and insert the smaller end into the jar. The ripe fruit and vinegar attract the flies, and the cone makes it difficult for them to get out. 

4. Milk, Sugar, and Pepper

Simmer two ounces of black pepper, ¼ lb sugar, and a pint of milk in a saucepan for 10 minutes. Carefully pour the hot mixture into a shallow dish and watch the fruit flies dive in. 

5. Yeast And Sugar

Add 1/4 cup of warm water, a package of activated dry yeast, and a teaspoon of sugar to a pint jar. Place a small sandwich bag over the top, with a corner going into the jar, and secure it with a rubber band. Use a pencil to make a small hole in the corner of the bag. 

6. Citronella And Other Essential Oils

Many essential oils like basil, citronella, and peppermint naturally deter mosquitoes, ants, and fruit flies. Pick your favorite scent and mix a few drops in a spray bottle with water for a safe, eco-friendly fruit fly deterrent.

7. Rubbing Alcohol

Rubbing alcohol repels and kills fruit flies while disinfecting surfaces. Keep a spray bottle filled with undiluted rubbing alcohol for fruit fly outbursts and disinfecting around the house. Spot-test the isopropyl alcohol on carpets, upholstery, and other fabrics before spraying to avoid ruining colors.

8. Carnivorous Plants

A guide for how to remove fruit flies wouldn’t be complete without mentioning their natural enemies—carnivorous house plants. Sundew, Pitcher, and other carnivorous plants are a natural solution for immediate and long-term fruit fly control.

9. Carnivorous Pets

Frogs and spiders are insatiable predators of hundreds of insect species. If adopting a frog or spider for natural pest control isn’t for you, we get it. However, considering that frogs and spiders eat hundreds of pests yearly, you may want to rethink your aversion. 

10. Commercial Products

Many effective and safe commercial products eliminate fruit flies, from sticky fly paper to plastic traps. You can also find eco-friendly sprays for non-food surfaces like mop heads, under sinks, drain covers, garbage cans, and other areas. 

How to Prevent Fruit Flies

Knowing how to get rid of fruit flies in the house is a vital housekeeping skill. However, understanding how to prevent the pests will save you time and effort. The first step for preventing fruit flies and other pests is keeping your kitchen clean. When you eliminate the food debris and other attractants, fruit flies will likely move on to greener pastures. Here are five helpful tips to keep your kitchen off limits to all sorts of pests:

1. Manage Your Produce

Buy only enough produce at a time that will be used before it goes bad. When you bring home fresh produce from the market, wash it before storing it. Scrubbing vegetables and fruits removes pesticides, germs, and residue that could attract fruit flies.

A mixture of two parts water and one part distilled white vinegar cleans produce and kills bacteria. Wash your produce with the water and vinegar solution, and rinse it thoroughly to eliminate offensive odors. Throw out overripe or rotting produce and immediately discard it in an outdoor trash can.

2. Take Out the Trash

Taking the trash out daily and emptying your recycling bin before it gets full helps prevent fruit flies. Each time you take out the trash or recycle, rinse out the can and dry it before lining it with a new bag. Keep areas around your trash can clean by wiping off buildup weekly. If your trashcan or recycling bin is under a sink, disinfect the cabinet’s interior monthly.

3. Sweep and Mop Daily

Those little crumbs from sandwiches and pastries may go unnoticed by humans, but fruit flies pick up the scent right away. Sweep and mop daily, including hard-to-reach places, like between your refrigerator and counters. Use your vacuum‘s crevice tool to remove debris between your fridge and counters weekly.

4. Don’t Leave Dirty Dishes in the Sink

All the leftover gunk on dirty dishes is too much to resist for fruit flies. Washing dirty dishes right away reduces breeding grounds and minimizes food sources. It’s also a good idea not to leave dirty dishes in the dishwasher too long. Even with the door closed, many pests, including fruit flies, can find their way in.

5. Keep Sink Drains Clean

Cleaning the drains in your kitchen sink with white vinegar can help reduce the aromas of food debris. If you have a garbage disposal, clean the baffle and the top of the disposal, then pour in the vinegar and baking soda. Turn on the disposal and run hot water for 30 seconds to flush all the food particles. 

The Maids: Your One-Stop Resource for a Clean and Healthy Home

Use these tips on how to get rid of fruit flies to send pests packing and the maintenance tips to prevent future infestations. Whether you’re trying to eliminate pests, dirt, dust, or germs, The Maids has your back. 

We’re on a mission to simplify housekeeping with handy how-to guides and residential cleaning services that fit your lifestyle. Discover what a healthy cleaning approach can mean for your family when you get your free personalized cleaning quote today.

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